Questioning the Government of Indonesia’s Commitment to Restore Mangrove Forests by 2024

May 6, 2022

On 11 February 2022, at the One Ocean Summit, President Joko Widodo stated that under his leadership, the Indonesian government was rehabilitating 600,000 hectares of mangrove forest until 2024. According to President Jokowi, the rehabilitation of mangrove forests is one way to create a healthy sea. This is the key to the sustainability of Indonesia’s development, which is the largest archipelagic country in the world.

Looking at the various policies that the Government has issued, WALHI has assessed that the Government is not working to restore the mangrove ecosystem in Indonesia. Based on data from Marine and Coastal Resources Statistics 2020, the total area of ​​mangrove forests is recorded at 2,515,943.31 hectares. Mostly, only 31.34 percent of mangrove forests are in good condition. The rest, 15.64 percent, are in moderate condition, and 13.92 are in damaged condition.

Furthermore, the wider community should question the Government’s commitment to rehabilitate 600 thousand hectares of mangroves by 2024 based on the following six points:

First, regarding the mangrove rehabilitation target of 600 thousand hectares by 2024, data from the Peat and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) in January 2022 stated that the first year’s achievements in 2021 were recorded at 29,500 hectares in nine provinces that are priority locations, and 3500 hectares in additional locations (23 provinces). This is a total of 33,000 hectares of newly rehabilitated mangroves, equivalent to 5.5 percent of the total target for mangrove rehabilitation until 2024. This figure is alarmingly low for the first year of the project.

In this institutional context, BRGM had lost its authority to supervise concessions compared to the regulatory arrangements when this institution was called Peat Restoration Agency (BRG). This loss of authority raises questions regarding the seriousness of the Indonesian Government, given the significant impact of extractive industry concessions on the mangrove ecosystem.

Data collected by WALHI (2022) notes that until now, mangrove forests could not be separated from the threat of WIUP (Mining Business Permit Areas). Mining areas reached 48,456.62 hectares in the mangrove forests, with 24,728.03 hectares in the primary and 23,728.59 hectares in secondary mangrove forests.

Second, the mangrove rehabilitation that the government pushed collided with the government’s own plan to continue reclamation projects in various regions in Indonesia. The data of WALHI (2022) mentions that the existing reclamation project in Indonesia covers an area of ​​79,348 hectares and will continue to be built on an area of ​​2,698,734.04 hectares. This area is based on data recorded in the regional regulation on the zoning of coastal areas and small islands in 22 provinces in Indonesia. Many mangrove forests in various coastal areas in Indonesia are destroyed and damaged by reclamation projects

Third, mangrove rehabilitation will also be destroyed by the expansion of mining projects, particularly oil and gas and sand mining covering an area of ​​12,985,477 hectares. In addition, the expansion of nickel mining in Sulawesi and North Maluku has also worsened the condition of mangroves. Based on data from National Mining Network (JATAM, 2019), it is recorded that on 55 small islands, there are 165 mining concessions with a total area of ​​734,000 ha. The largest commodity mined from small islands is nickel, on as many as 22 small islands. The existence of the nickel mining permit has accelerated the destruction of mangroves.

Fourth, in the 28 documents of the Regional Regulation on Zoning for Coastal Areas and Small Islands, only ten provinces in Indonesia allocate space for the protection and management of mangrove forests. The total area recorded is 26,924.27 hectares. The other 18 provinces in Indonesia do not provide space to protect and manage  mangrove forests in the Regional Regulation on Zoning of Coastal Areas and Small Islands. 

Fifth, the Indonesian Government targets aquaculture production to reach 22.65 million tons by 2024. Especially for shrimp as a leading export commodity, the Government will increase its production target of 1,520,836 tons in 2024 from 2020’s production of 1,208,433 tons. In addition, the Government of Indonesia is targeting the establishment of aquaculture production centers in  50 areas. In fact, in 2020, there were only ten regional centers.

With the encouragement of large-scale aquaculture, especially shrimp, there will be a serious threat to the sustainability of the mangrove ecosystem in Indonesia. Large-scale shrimp aquaculture will require a mangrove forest area for shrimp cultivation. Mangrove areas in Indonesia continue to shrink from year to year.

Sixth, the Government has issued Law no. 11 of 2020 concerning Job Creation at the end of 2020. Article 5 of the Employment Creation Law, which regulates geothermal, legalizes geothermal mining in water areas that will destroy mangrove forests in Indonesia.


Demand to the government of Indonesia

With the six notes mentioned above, WALHI considers that the Indonesian Government under the leadership of President Jokowi is not serious about rehabilitating mangrove forests in Indonesia. In addition, the existence of the Job Creation Law which prioritises extractive and exploitative investments, further emphasises that the Government’s plan to rehabilitate mangrove forests is only a commitment on paper.

If the Government wants to rehabilitate mangrove forests, they will need to immediately evaluate and revoke various project permits that damage and destroy mangroves. This includes revoking laws and policies that accelerate the destruction of mangroves in Indonesia, especially revoking the Job Creation Law which provides flexibility for the destruction of mangrove forests.


For more information contact:
Parid Ridwanuddin
Coastal and Marine Campaign Manager of WALHI National Executive/FoE Indonesia